Author Archives: Anthony Paoletti

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Will Obamacare be Trump’d? (and does it really matter?)

On the 20th of January, a new president took office. Barack Obama graciously exited the White House handing the keys to the inbound Donald J. Trump. President Trump was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), and had promised to reverse it once in office. 20558323 - close up of male doctor holding tablet pc with medical appWhat ultimately happens to President Obama’s signature piece of legislation is yet to be seen. It may be revamped or it may be scrapped altogether, but when it comes to technology adoption in healthcare, does it really matter?

To answer that question we need to look at a few other pieces of legislation as well as general trends in healthcare.

The first piece of legislation that is important is the Tele-Med Act of 2015. We detailed the implications of this bill in another post about a year ago.

In general, The Tele-Med Act of 2015 may just lower existing barriers to implementing telemedicine services, especially across state lines. Now, as it is a federal bill, it really only applies to Medicare currently, but it would set a precedent for other private insurance companies to follow and open up the boundaries that may currently prohibit them from offering services in neighboring states.”

Now that piece of legislation seems to be taking it’s time getting through committees, but there is one other important thing about the bill you should know. It was introduced by a Republican and there are 27 cosponsors of that bill with equal “D”s and “R”s following their names.

The second piece of legislation that may lend some insight into what the future role of technology in healthcare may be is the ECHO Act. ECHO stand for Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes. This act became law on December 14th 2016, and it applies to examining how the use and integration of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models can impact better health outcomes. It would pave the way for technology like video teleconferencing and distance learning to be used to actually facilitate knowledge and resource sharing between healthcare facilities to better train staff and make more efficient use of limited resources and specialists. This bill also had bipartisan support when introduced.

Despite whatever political rhetoric and posturing seems to be going on, one thing seems clear. Both sides of the aisle agree that telehealth will be a large part of the solution to our healthcare problems. It will decrease costs, increase efficiency, and create access for those that may be in underserved or rural locales where the quality of care is not currently up to par.

Even if the ACA is scrapped, the trends towards using technology to allow healthcare professionals to share information more effectively and to connect doctor’s to patients for after care, follow up visits, counseling, etc will still continue due to bipartisan bills and laws that were passed apart from the ACA. The ACA does not impact the need for us to use technology to allow patients to self-manage their own care to drive the desired outcomes. However, creating solutions that are truly engaging for patients/families will have the highest impact on reducing costs.

One idea of reform needed to make plans more affordable is that of breaking down the invisible lines between the states when it comes to providing and billing for care. It would seem that telehealth would have a strong role in this scenario if implemented as well as a way to bridge the geographic gaps.

At the end of the day, an objective look at the types of healthcare bills that are being introduced and passed, illustrate that both sides of the aisle see technology as a way to make healthcare more affordable and to create better patient outcomes. Despite what reform or repeal happens with the ACA, it doesn’t seem like the new House, Senate, or President will “trump” that trend.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://blog.avidex.com/are-you-ready-the-tele-med-act-of-2015/

#2: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3081/cosponsors

#3: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2873/cosponsors

#4: http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/news-item/telemedicine/senate-passes-bill-use-project-echo-nationwide-telehealth-model

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

The Role of Technology in Patient Satisfaction

There has been a recent shift in healthcare from a fee-for-service environment to a pay-for-performance model.  The shift is a good one in most people’s eyes as it focuses more on the patient and the actual results than it does the provider and their services.20984020 - happy couple looking at digital tablet held by doctor  The performance of a healthcare provider is now evaluated based on patient outcomes (70%) and patient satisfaction (30%) and payments are dependent on performance in both areas.  Due to this, healthcare providers are more focused on patient satisfaction, at least from a metrics standpoint, than ever before.  “In fact, more than half (54%) of healthcare executives say patient experience and satisfaction is one of their top three priorities.”  

So how is patient experience data gathered and reported?  Enter the HCAHPS survey.  What is that you ask?  “The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey is the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care.”  It is a required survey in all hospitals now, and the answers patients give matter to the payments received.

There have been many studies on the impact that nurses and physicians have on patient satisfaction.  Nothing will ever do more for generating comfort than the human touch and a great bedside manner.  However, technology can play an important role in assisting the caregiver and increasing patient satisfaction in 3 important ways.

Reducing Anxiety and Pain

Nothing is more stressful than being in a foreign place where you feel alone and helpless.  Moving from the patient room to multiple locations in the facility for radiology, MRIs, blood panels and the like make the experience even more bewildering and uncomfortable.  Add to that a sterile white wall or ceiling with nothing to look at and an ear ringing silence and you have nothing to focus on BUT the procedure and itself and any pain and discomfort that may go along with it.

Audio visual technology has been shown to decrease patient anxiety in many procedures, with the combination of soothing sounds and visuals together being greater than the sum of their parts.  According to one study in this arena:

“The presentation of audiovisual stimuli during a medical examination, can reduce anxiety and consequently enhance the overall patient experience.  Visual and auditory stimuli decreased pain, stress and anxiety… reduced discomfort and distress…and  significantly increased pain threshold and pain tolerance.”

The other way to decrease patient anxiety through the use of technology may not be as obvious, but is just as valuable.  Patient Education Systems.  Nothing can assist the physician or nurse in explaining a potentially complicated medical procedure better than a short video or computer animation that can be accessed in the patient room on the TV.  Providing visual aides before a procedure to help the patient understand the upcoming treatment can greatly reduce fear of the unknown and give the patient peace of mind.

Providing Access and Control

Given how central the act of communication is to the human experience, there are many questions on the HCAHPS survey that ask about communication between the patient and staff.  Communication can have a profound effect on the impression a patient has of their care, regardless of whether or not their ailment is treated properly.  Patients also find some level of comfort in having some control.  Being hospitalized leaves many feeling helpless and providing some sense of control to patients alleviates this feeling.  In both cases providing the patient with access to both staff and information fulfill these needs.

If a patient has a direct line to the nurse’s station via the call button, creating a video call between the attendant and themselves they can take comfort in the fact that they can express their needs.  In cases where specialists may be shared between facilities, patients can also access staff for detailed questions and concerns remotely and efficiently without the barriers of travel time between locations.  Finally, access to information on treatments and control of entertainment options during down time also help provide access and control when needed.

Increasing Communication

Finally, technology also assists in providing more positive patient impressions at the time of discharge.  Patient Education Systems as described above allow patients to review discharge instructions, at home treatments, and follow up visit schedules at their leisure when they are most receptive to receiving the information.  It has also been shown that information is retained much longer and more accurately when it is presented both visually and audibly.  Training organizations like OSHA have long understood this phenomenon in promoting better understanding and retention of information.  In this case, it means the chances of readmissions also go down, and the digital nature of the information sharing also creates the added bonus of a record of communicating the information to the patient to mitigate any future liability as well.

As you can see, although technology will most likely never be able to replace the human element of patient satisfaction, it can greatly assist the healthcare practitioner in making sure their patients are at ease and are well informed both about the procedures they are about to undergo as well as how to best care for themselves once they are back in the comfort of their own homes.  Never before has bedside manner been tied in such a way to the payment of healthcare services, and a small investment in some assistive technology can make the difference in how a patient remembers the experience as a whole.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: https://apihealthcare.com/sites/default/files/MC_CL_PAS_PPA_0000000001.pdf

#2: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/4-strategies-to-boost-hospitals-hcahps-scores.html

#3: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811356_2

#4: http://www.hcahpsonline.org/home.aspx

#5: http://www.rufwork.com/110/mats/oshaVisualAids.html

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

The Audits are Coming! The Audits are Coming!

Ever since the Woodrow Wilson and the 16th Amendment gave us a Federal income tax back in 1913, Americans have had to worry about being audited by the government. The modern IRS was born in the 1950s and they get very busy every year after April 16th, pouring through millions of income tax filings, looking for mistakes and potential revenue.35078610 - file folders with patient health records label and private stamp

This year, starting March 21st, another government agency started its second round of audits. These audits however have nothing to do with taxes. The Depart of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is conducting audits on healthcare providers and facilities that focus on HIPPA violations.

This second round of audits identifies 180 areas of focus for HIPPA compliance by healthcare providers. If you want to review all 180 of them (and you probably should), there is a not-so-easy to navigate webpage that explains them all at HHS.gov here.

Of course we all benefit from the security of our private medical information. Medical identity fraud is on the rise, so much that there is even a Medical Identity Fraud Alliance dedicated to addressing it. Of course healthcare facilities and providers are already concerned and are taking precautions to avoid private patient information falling into the wrong hands, but the added pressure of an audit and potential fines and sanctions raise the stakes even more.

With that, I’d like to offer 3 areas you may want to evaluate in your facility or practice to make sure you are compliant.

Confidential Communications- There is a delicate balance in play when it comes to patient communications. HIPPA has guidelines that require providers to facilitate access to a patient’s Private Health Information (PHI) in case they need access to it. This means Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other PHI cannot just be locked down in a vault. This makes things trickier as providers need to figure out how to provide secure access without compromising privacy. This confidentiality extends beyond verbal and written communications to electronic forms of communication as well. Healthcare providers should not only be evaluating their server client and storage area networks, but also their phone and video patient interactions. Providers should be choosing telemedicine platforms and hardware that make the “best effort” to secure patient information. Consumer grade cloud based teleconferencing may not be seen to fit this definition by the auditor looking into your procedures. Make sure you are confident in the encryption method and secure transmission and storage of any remote health care services you are providing via telemedicine.

Business Associate Contracts- As a healthcare provider, you most likely work with several other business to provide the best care for your patients. These associates could include pharmaceutical manufacturers, staffing companies, or even outsourced IT and data centers. They may also include technology providers that install and manage technology within your facility. HIPPA requires not only that you take the best effort to protect your patients’ PHI, but that you also choose partners that do the same. Make sure to enter business associate contracts with companies that understand the healthcare space and HIPPA requirements. This is your best bet in mitigating liability and avoiding sanctions and fines that may not even be your fault.

Facility Access Controls- One area of HIPPA compliance that may or may not be on your radar is physical access to your facility. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to limit access to information in the form of EHR and physical specimens (blood, DNA, Urine, etc) that may compromise a patient’s privacy. There is also a HIPPA guideline that states that a provider has a responsibility to verify the identity of anyone requesting access to a patient’s PHI. This is not only electronic access, but also physical access. The best way to control physical access and verify identity is to implement an access control system similar to that which would be used in a data center. Access control systems can use a combination of verification methods like key cards, PINs, and even biometric devices like fingerprint scanners, hand geometry readers or retinal scanners to assure the right people are accessing the appropriate patient information.

At the end of the day, you still may find an HHS auditor contacting you from the OCR. However, doing a proactive review of the technology within your facility may just help you avoid fines and sanctions by eliminating issues before the real audit ensues.

 

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/audit/protocol/index.html

#2: http://medidfraud.org/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/theres-more-to-hippa-than-encryption-choosing-the-right-vtc-platform/

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/choosing-the-right-av-partner-for-healthcare-facility-design/

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

It’s Good to be an Organ “Droner”

50877847_sDrones are everywhere. Applications range from military use for fighting terrorists to aerial photography to recreational use by hobbyists and even Amazon has announced it would like to start using them for package delivery. Imagine being able to deliver packages in dense urban areas without having to worry about traffic or parking. Now imagine that instead of delivering your nephew’s birthday present, the drone is delivering something much more critical…medical care.

Before you scoff at the idea, let me share a quick scenario.

Imagine your 21 year old daughter is in desperate need of a heart transplant. You wring your hands, hoping that somehow a heart will become available in time to save her life. 8 miles away, a 27 year old dies in a car crash. It’s both a tragedy and a miracle as he is an organ donor and his heart is a match. Your heart soars until you remember that the route from the crash to the hospital, that seemingly short 8 miles, takes 2 hours to traverse at this time of day in Chennai, India. It will take another miracle for police to clear the road to get the heart there in time.

This is a true story, and luckily, the second miracle also occurred. A whole team of police had to clear the route for the heart to arrive and they amazingly got it to the hospital in 13 minutes and saved the young girls life. But when minutes are the difference between life and death, should we have to take that chance? Metropolitan areas in New York City and Los Angeles have equally horrific traffic problems. Even dispatching a helicopter may present some delays in getting flight clearances and in finding a suitable landing location. Not only that, helicopters are a limited resource that may not be readily available for organ transportation. So isn’t there a better way?

Some students in Spain thought there was, and they developed a purpose built drone with a refrigerated storage compartment specifically for the purpose of transporting organs quickly and efficiently from one location to another. They are currently running a test program in India, and if successful, there is no reason that the same programs couldn’t be implemented in the US as well.

Drones in healthcare may not be so far-fetched after all.

Now think of extended applications. What about a drone that delivers medical care to those trapped in a mine? Or drone that uses a video teleconferencing system to respond to an accident and give bystanders instructions on what to do until the paramedics arrive? Or a drone that includes a defibrillator for a heart attack victim? (Here’s a great video on that idea as well.) The scenarios abound.

Then consider that the size and cost of the drones mean that a large network of them could be deployed. Imagine a series of roadside pedestal “garages” with drones at the ready every few miles, able to be dispatched to accidents and assess injury severity for positioning more scarce EMT and Paramedic resources. Now that may be very valuable indeed.

All too often we see technology positioned in films and pop culture as being a potential threat to the human race. However, in today’s world it seems technology is once again in the service of saving lives instead. After all, it’s good to be an organ “droner”.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/05/india-organ-transplant-drones-419013.html

#2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-rEI4bezWc

#3: http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/ambulance-drone-tu-delft-vergroot-overlevingskans-bij-hartstilstand-drastisch/

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Avidex Awarded PAMF Los Gatos Center Project, Opening June 22

The project was a TEECOM AV design/bid that Avidex submitted on and was awarded the job. Avidex was subcontracted by Redwood Electric (the electrical contractor) to provide the audiovisual equipment and installation.

The audiovisual portion of the project included a Divisible Conference Room and the installation of twelve flat panel displays for signage and patient information.The Divisible Conference Room consists of ceiling recessed video projectors in motorized lifts and motorized projection screens. In each of the rooms, an audiovisual input wall plate at the front of the room provides connectivity for a VGA input, 3.5mm audio input, and  HDMI laptops or other AV sources. A wall-mounted, push-button control interface at the front of each room allows users to turn the AV systems ON and OFF, RAISE and LOWER the Volume and SELECT input Sources. Audio is reproduced via ceiling recessed loudspeakers. A small AV equipment rack is located in the credenza in the rear of one of the rooms and houses all of the audiovisual equipment.

Avidex supplied all of the audiovisual equipment, the installation of the equipment as well as the programming of the control system and audio and video switching.

The new Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Los Gatos Center is scheduled to open for patient care on Monday, June 22, 2015.

Services at the new 40,000-square-foot medical building, located at 15400 Los Gatos Blvd., will provide primary care – Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Internal Medicine – as well as digital imaging services, a laboratory, and an urgent care center that will be open 365 days a year. The new building includes 51 exam rooms, four treatment rooms, one anti-coagulation room, two observation rooms and one radiology room.

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

New FDA Guidelines Put Mobile Video Carts Within Reach Without The Red Tape

Week 2 photo polycom practitioner cartFor any organization that has been servicing the medical community, it almost goes without saying that “The O.R.” is sacred ground.

Without explicit permission from the FDA nothing goes in to the O.R. And for many reasons this is a very, very good thing.

However, with the rapid proliferation of technology, especially technology that can be used to enhance care during both routine and emergency procedures, sometimes these strict regulations can limit the accessibility to important technology or at very least delay its availability while often times driving up costs as timely approvals can make the process consuming both time consuming and financially burdensome.

One of the specific products that have seen an uptick in use in the O.R. has been the video conferencing cart. Better known throughout the industry as Telemedicine, this technology is being used to improve health and patient outcomes and it is because of this that the FDA is going to cease its enforcement of certain regulatory controls that apply to these systems; often packaged as carts for easy use and mobility.

The new guidance – New MDDS guidance reduces regulatory hurdles for developers – was designed to not only lower restrictions on Telemedicine carts, but for a wide number of low risk digital medical devices that are low risk to patients and integral to improving the delivery of healthcare.

We believe that this is very exciting news for the delivery of digital based support and imaging in the O.R.

At Avidex AV we work side-by-side with our clients to deliver successful business outcomes through the deployment of the technology solutions that truly bring their businesses forward.  How can we help your business? Let’s connect and find out!

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Telemedicine To Drive Safer Sports and Concussion Management

Ambulance on football fieldOver the past few years there has been a lot of discussion and debate relating to athletes and the management of head trauma. From Pee Wee football to the NFL, this has been a hot topic. For those of us living and playing (or with kids who play) sports in urban settings, we don’t think much of it. Access to healthcare in the event of an emergency is right around the corner. However, while many people may live in urban areas, only a small percentage of the land across the states is defined as urban. Meaning, for some, access to the required care may not be so available for some.

In a recent Daily Record article Telemedicine could help schools assess concussions the tone is set by exploring what it may be like when a high school student athlete takes a hit and is believed to be concussed. The nearest treatment facility doesn’t have the type of specialist to give the proper attention to this incident and the nearest neurological specialist is hundreds of miles away. What can be done?

Many healthcare professionals are looking at ways that telemedicine could help better handle these types of situations. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recently teamed up with the University of Arizona to explore how real time analysis could be done on the field with potentially concussed athletes. While nothing has been widely rolled out, what comes to mind is having specialists available on demand to perform on field exams using a tablet and high resolution camera. Just imagine what this could do for better treatment of athletes?

Even if on the field care is too far away, telemedicine at the local care center could be a giant step in providing more immediate care for athletes who may have head trauma. What we do know for sure is this is one very solid application for Telemedicine and Telehealth technology.

At Avidex we work with our healthcare organizations to utilize technology to meet their most important business and patient objectives. From Telepresence to Wayfinding and so much more, how can we help your organization leverage the best technology available?

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com